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General · San Rafael
Uranium mining in San Rafael is opposed by ¿Uranio? No Gracias .
Public hearing on remediation project of Sierra Pintada uranium mine - remediation to last six to ten years:
The Sierra Pintada mine - San Rafael - produced uranium for the operation of Argentina's nuclear plants. As contaminated wastes were buried at this place, there will be a public hearing on Wednesday [Jan. 9] in which will explained how the cleanup of the mining complex will be done, which will last between six and 10 years.
"The Sierra Pintada mine was closed more than 25 years ago and there were left several liabilities of the mining exploitation, liabilities that the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) never remedied and they were not required to remedy," explained Humberto Mingorance, Secretary of Environment and Territorial Ordinance [of Mendoza]. He added: "This is a very sensitive issue for the people of San Rafael, we have to remedy 1,200,000 cubic meters of contaminated pit water and 5,223 200-liter barrels that contain solids and are buried". (Diario Uno Jan. 7, 2019)
> View: Province of Mendoza release Jan. 8, 2019 (in Spanish)
> Download: Environmental Impact Statement (in Spanish)
> View: CNEA release Jan. 8, 2019 (in Spanish)
Argentina's Auditor General's Office denounces lack of progress in management of environmental liabilities at Sierra Pintada uranium mine:
On July 16, 2015, the Auditor General's Office released a report denouncing the lack of progress in the management of the environmental liabilities at the Sierra Pintada uranium mine and mill site. The mine is inactive since 1997 and is not allowed to restart operations, before the environmental liabilities are cleaned up.
> View AGN release July 16, 2015 (in Spanish)
> Download AGN report (26.3MB PDF - in Spanish)
Environmental Impact Study presented for Sierra Pintada uranium mine: A new environmental impact study that could be the initial step for the reopening of the San Rafael mining complex in Sierra Pintada, was presented this week at the occasion of a site visit requested by the federal judge in San Rafael, Eduardo Puigdéngolas. (Los Andes Apr. 24, 2014)
CNEA fined for negligence in avoiding discharges from the idle Sierra Pintada uranium mill site:
The General Department of Irrigation, through its Water Police Division, fined the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) 300,000 pesos [US$ 43,800] for negligence.
The penalty reflects the results of the analysis carried out by Irrigation in the alluvial channel (The Toscalito stream) flowing into the El Tigre creek, after crossing the industrial area of the Sierra Pintada Manufacturing Complex (in San Rafael), an area in which the uranium processing plant, heap leach piles, tanks, grinding and storage facilities are located.
The discharges from a waste water dam with high concentrations in uranium, radium and other highly dangerous substances, including pathogens, directly flow into the El Tigre creek and then into the río Diamante river.
Irrigation requires an "immediate priority intervention" on the waste water dam. (Los Andes Jan. 19, 2014)
CNEA denies plan to relocate Dioxitek UO2 plant (Córdoba) to Sierra Pintada
> View here
At the occasion of the Livestock Festival in Alvear, protests were held against the reopening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine. (Diario Uno May 12, 2012)
On March 23, 2012, a leak was detected in the HDPE liner of an evaporation pond at the Sierra Pintada uranium complex. (Los Andes May 3, 2012)
The Supreme Court of the Nation rejected a complaint filed by the National Commission of Atomic Energy (CNEA): In order to be able to restart mining in the Sierra Pintada uranium complex, CNEA will first have to remedy the existing environmental liabilities. (Los Andes Dec. 17, 2010)
The Supreme Court of the Nation rejected an appeal filed by "Multisectorial of the South for a sustainable development" against the National Commission of Atomic Energy (CNEA), the state-owned organism that owns the Sierra Pintada uranium complex. The appeal focused on the possible hazard of contamination of water resources by the uranium mine. (Los Andes June 12, 2010)
A report prepared by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ARN) found that concentrations of natural uranium and radium in Río Diamante were below national and international guideline values during the monitoring period 1998-2007, despite the impacts of the inactive San Rafael uranium mine site. (Los Andes 4 Apr 2009)
The Federal Chamber of Appeals of the province of Mendoza ordered the Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica (CNEA) to abstain from reopening the San Rafael uranium mine (that is inactive since 1995), because it is potentially harmful for the environment. (Los Andes 19 Feb 2009)
CNEA expects to begin the works to repair the effluent ponds at the former Sierra Pintada uranium mine with an investment of $5 million early in December 2007. This is a prerequisite for future resumption of the mine operation. (Diario Uno Nov. 9, 2007)
At the request of a member of Multisectoral del Sur , a federal judge ordered that no works preparing production may be performed at the Sierra Pintada uranium mine. The judge summoned a hearing on June 26, 2007. (Diario San Rafael 20 June 2007)
The World Bank is interested in financing the restart of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine, provided that a solution is found for the reclamation of the former operations. (Los Andes June 6, 2007)
The wine producers of the San Rafael river basin fear that the reopening of a uranium mine in the Sierra Pintada area endangers the prestige that their wine has in the exporting market, mainly American and European. In an attempt to measure the real impact of the uranium, they summoned specialists of the National University of La Plata (UNLP) to analyze water, grape juice, and products of the region. (Diario Hoy April 1, 2007)
A powerful coalition of vineyards, organic farmers and local businesses is up in arms, warning residents that their water, air and soil are at risk of being poisoned and their livelihoods, export markets, tourist industry and health could be ruined.
The issue is so explosive that for now, there is no official talk of restarting the Sierra Pintada mine complex. A public hearing is scheduled for February 17, 2007, to discuss the National Atomic Energy Commission's (CNEA) plan to clean up uranium waste that has been left at the site since operations halted a decade ago. Opponents say the plan, presented to the provincial government a year ago, is flawed and merely "environmental window dressing". "We are urgently asking for a clean-up but based on a serious study, not a secondary-school report", said Raul Montenegro, a biologist with the 38-group coalition.
He said waters in the Tigre stream, which flows through the mine and into the Diamond River that supplies semi-arid San Rafael with drinking water, contain up to 75 micrograms of uranium per litre - which he said was more than twice the levels permitted in the US, Canada and Australia. The CNEA says the water is naturally high in uranium and independent studies have proved there is no contamination. (Financial Times Feb. 8, 2007)
On Dec. 1, 2006, Multisectorial del Sur held a demonstration in San Rafael against the reopening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine. (Diario San Rafael Dec. 4, 2006)
The public hearing scheduled on Nov. 2, 2006, for discussion of CNEA's Environmental Impact Study for the reclamation of the abandoned Sierra Pintada uranium mine was suspended upon receipt of a notification issued by the Fourth Civilian Court of San Rafael at the request of Multisectoral del Sur. (Diario Uno Nov. 2, 2006)
Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica (CNEA) has opened an information centre at San Rafael to inform the public on the proposed reopening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine. (Diario Uno Oct. 29, 2006)
On October 16 - 20, 2006, a public hearing will be held on the reopening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine. Provided the Provincial Government issues a declaration of environmental impact, the reclamation of the environmental liabilites from former mining at the site could start by the end of the year. The reclamation work would take two years; CNEA has a total budget of $ 17 million for it. (Diario Uno Sep. 16, 2006)
At the occasion of the visit of Argentina's president Néstor Kirchner on August 29, 2006, Multisectorial del Sur held a march in San Rafael against the reopening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine. (Diario San Rafael Sep. 4, 2006)
Frightened by the possible contamination of the Diamante River and the environment, hundreds of inhabitants marched on June 2, 2006, through the downtown streets of San Rafael to demand that the Sierra Pintada uranium mine should not be reopened nor any other uranium mine should be permitted. (Diario Uno June 3, 2006)
CNEA has scheduled the beginning of the reclamation of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine for mid-2006. CNEA maintains, however, that the requested complete reclamation of the old workings is not possible, since most backfilling could only be done after the final closure of the mine. For the reclamation work, approval of the provincial government is required.
The mine could then be reopened in mid-2007. For resumption of mining, in addition, a new license has to obtained from the nuclear authority Autoridad Regulatoria Nuclear (ARN). (Los Andes March 22, 2006)
A march against the re-opening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine prior to cleanup of the environmental liabilities of former mining is held in San Rafael on Feb. 17, 2006. (Diario San Rafael Feb. 17, 2006)
The Federal Court of San Rafael has ordered the prohibition of all activities associated with the re-opening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine. The decision was taken at the request of Multisectorial para el Desarrollo Sustentable, an organization comprising about 40 local NGOs, and having repeatedly spoken out against the reopening of the mine before the environmental liabilities of nearly 20 years of uranium mining have not been cleaned up. (Diario San Rafael Apr. 4, 2005)
On March 17, 2005, Alberto Llach, president of the Chamber of Commerce of San Rafael, confirmed the position of the directory: "Before considering the reactivation of uranium mining, CNEA must reclaim the environmental liabilities in San Rafael and Malargüe". (Los Andes March 18, 2005)
On July 27, 2004, Argentina's atomic energy commission (CNEA) has handed over to Mendoza provincial authorities the environmental impact study (EIS) to revive the Sierra Pintada uranium mine, located in Mendoza's San Rafael district. CNEA wants Sierra Pintada, which has a capacity of 120t/y, to produce close to 2,500t of uranium over 20 years. The 1800-page document was prepared by the Technical University of Avellaneda.
Ongoing negotiations are aimed at resolving the question of environmental legacies resulting from previous operations at the mine. It is CNEA's responsibility to find a solution to these problems, which include uranium tailings.
Moreover, a committee from the province's lower house of parliament has been set up to look into the economic and social aspects of the project and has been given 90 days to report back. (BNamericas 29 Jul 2004, Ministerio de Economía Jul 2004)
Argentina's atomic energy commission CNEA is pushing ahead with administrative procedures to enable it to reopen the San Rafael uranium deposit in the Sierra Pintada area of southern Mendoza province, in the central-west region of the country. The CNEA will present an environmental impact study (EIS) for the project in coming days, Juan Fallet, the province's mining authority director told BNamericas. Preparations are going ahead despite protests by an NGO known as Fundación Nativa and some members of the San Rafael chamber of commerce who are opposed to the development. "There will probably be a public hearing to decide the next steps," Fallet said. (BNamericas Oct. 30, 2003)
The local Chamber of Commerce (Cámara de Comercio, Industria y Agropecuaria de San Rafael ) joins the opposition against the reopening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine, since the mine would have severe impacts on the regional economy. (Los Andes Aug. 25, 2003)
> See also: San Rafael: los vecinos ya le dicen no a la mina de uranio. (The neighbours already say no to the uranium mine) (FUNAM Aug. 26, 2003, in Spanish)
The Argentine National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) is preparing to restart mining operations at its Sierra Pintada uranium deposit in Mendoza province. The mine has been shut since 1997 and should be up and running by October 2003. (BNamericas 13 Feb 2003)
General · Caetité · Engenho · Lagoa Real
Removal of overburden at Engenho uranium mine in Caetité has started:
Removal of the overburden from the future Engenho mine at INB's Uranium Concentration Unit in Caetité started on December 22, two days after obtaining authorisation from the National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN).
INB expects this phase to last 10 months. As this first layer of soil already has some uranium content, it is estimated to obtain 73 tons of yellowcake in that period, with an initial production forecast for February 2017. The start of mining is scheduled for October 2017.
The Engenho mine has an estimated production capacity of 280 to 300 tons of uranium concentrate per year. Mining will take place in three open pits. In the first phase, pits No. 2 and 3 will be used. The removal of the overburden of pit No. 1 will begin in ten years from now.
The start-up of the planned underground mine at Caetité is foreseen for 2020. (INB Dec. 29, 2016)
Infrastructure works commissioned for Engenho uranium mine at Caetité: INB recently signed two contracts for the completion of infrastructure services necessary for the opening of the new Engenho mine in Caetité / BA. (INB Mar. 22, 2016)
Site preparation works commenced at Engenho uranium mining area at Caetité: With the Installation License to implement the open-pit mining of the Engenho mine already granted by IBAMA, INB began construction of access roads and the works for the opening of the mine site, informed the Director of Mineral Resources of the company Roberto Bahia, on Thursday (Sep. 3) in Caetité (BA). (INB Sep. 4, 2015)
Restart of uranium mining at Caetité planned for 2016:
The Nuclear Industries of Brazil (INB) plans to resume the mining and production of uranium concentrate (yellow cake) next year. The president of INB, Aquilino Senra, said on Wednesday (June 17) it received from Ibama the installation license for the exploitation of uranium ore in the Engenho open pit mine in Caetité, Bahia. The mine will have the capacity to produce 340 tons of uranium from 2017. Investments are estimated at R$ 150 million [US$ 49 million] over five years, from INB's own resources.
According to the executive, INB is in the process of preparing also the opening of a third mine in the same uranium deposit, to allow full compliance with the country's demand of 380 tons per year by 2018. With the depletion of the Cachoeira mine last year Brazil turned to the import of the uranium it needs. (INB June 18, 2015)
Construction license issued for new Engenho open pit mine at Caetité: The Installation License for deployment of open-pit mining of the Engenho mine was granted this month by IBAMA , the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources. The license is valid for four years and brings conditions for the implementation of the project such as the construction of drainage systems of the Engenho mine in implementing the environmental monitoring program for the exhausted Cachoeira mine and the Engenho mine, as well as the program management of waste and monitoring of noise and dust, among other conditions. The Engenho mine also will be mined in the open, with three pits. This new deposit has a capacity to produce 4,730 tonnes of uranium concentrate [4,011 t U] for 14 years, maintaining an average annual production of 340 tonnes [288 t U]. (INB Apr. 29, 2015)
New Engenho uranium mining area in licensing process at Caetité:
Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) is licensing a new deposit located in the area of the Caetité uranium mine and mill: the Engenho deposit will be exploited by open pit mining from 2015, through three pits. This new field has the capacity to produce a total of 4,730 tonnes of uranium concentrate in 14 years, corresponding to an average annual production of 340 tonnes.
An Environmental Control Plan with all the features of the Engenho deposit is being analyzed by IBAMA.
From the beginning, the INB in Caetité has been working the Cachoeira open pit mine, which produced a total of 3,640 tonnes of uranium concentrate. The extraction of the remaining ore from this mine will require adopting underground mining, which is also in the licensing process, expected to begin operations next year. (INB Oct. 17, 2014)
> Download Informações sobre monitorações de águas na comunidade do Juazeiro (282kB PDF - in Portuguese)
On January 17, 2002, INB exported the first shipment of uranium from Caetité. The first 500-kg shipment went to Belgium. (EFE/Gazeta Mercantil Jan. 17, 2002)
Authorisation to resume uranium operations at Lagoa Real mine was given to Industrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) by the environmental control entity - Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente e Recursos Renovaveis (Ibama) - and Comissão Nacional de Energia Nuclear (CNEN). Production was halted 12 months ago due to a uranium leakage. In that period, lost production amounted to 400 tonnes U3O8 (339 tU). (WNA News Briefing 01.46, Nov. 14, 2001)
In October 2000, INB put the operations of the Lagoa Real / Caetité mine on hold, in response to the leak that occured in April 2000. (Gazeta Mercantil, Oct. 27, 2000)
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